More importantly, I promised an attempt at the billion-dollar question of how marketers could successfully utilize social media to reach Hispanics. In anticipation of an answer, we need to start with the right research and approach. In an article I wrote last September, I noted that "our industry needs more robust qualitative research and behavioral models ... to smartly 'go to market' with Hispanics in social media." I think personas might just be the right framework.
Personas are user archetypes that help guide decisions about product features, navigation, interactions and visual design. Since their introduction in the late '90s, they have grown in use from being a tool used mostly in the software industry to becoming a central planning tool within the Web and digital advertising community. Personas, in their traditional form, are synthesized from ethnographic research with real people and then summarized in one- to two-page descriptions that include behavior patterns, skills, attitudes and environment combined with a few fictional personal details to bring the personas to life.
I think personas provide an effective tool that can be evolved to include psychographic data (among other types of qualitative research) to help brands effectively navigate the Hispanic social media waters. It is for that reason that our team undertook what we are calling the Hispanic Persona Project.
The Hispanic Persona Project is a primary research effort aimed at creating personas that represent the U.S. Hispanic Internet population. The project methodology consisted of over 60 ethnographic interviews with Hispanics across acculturation levels, geographies, and nationalities. Understanding the inherent complexities of clustering 30 million diverse Hispanics into four to five personas, our goal was to introduce a new framework to guide Hispanic marketing across the POEM (Paid, Owned, Earned Media) spectrum. We also wanted to start a robust discussion about new market research and planning tools to use in a world of over 50 million Hispanics, more than half of whom are U.S. born.
We will be unveiling the results of the Hispanic Personas Project during a live, interactive session at the 2011 Hispanicize Conference in Los Angeles. In addition to publishing a report with the Hispanic Personas at Hispanicize, we will be providing attendees with a unique opportunity to interact with the personas, via an interactive panel of live consumers representing each of the Hispanic personas.
In advance of unveiling of the formal research, I can share information on three of the Hispanic Personas we have created:
|Super User||Social Techie||Moderates|
|Innovators||Always connected for social purposes||Tech-savvy but not a super user|
|Do everything online||"Heavy social user" doing it because everyone else is||Uses tech on an as-needed basis|
|Early adopters of new |
media and technology
|Always the first to respond to social posts||Uses Facebook as a tool to stay connected to people|
|Teach others |
|Smartphone always at their side||Doesn't use Twitter|
|Heavy mobile usage||Texts more than they talk||Uses mobile for talking, not |
text or Web
|Always connected||Use social media to "observe" |
and track people and friends
|Goes online to access news |
and stay connected to their roots
|Being online is their main source of entertainment||Occasionally shops or downloads music online|
As you can see from these high level personas, they focus on digital behavior and mindsets, not demographics. While personas have historically been used only to plan digital "experiences" in owned platforms -- such as Websites, kiosks or apps -- they clearly provide important texture to plan earned media initiatives, particularly in interactive and two-way social environments.
Finally, I'll leave you with some interesting topline results from our research:
In my last installment of this three-part discussion, we'll take the final results of the Hispanic Persona Project and talk about applying them in the real world of Hispanic social media.